NT residents shelter in path of cyclone

CYCLONE Trevor has intensified to category three and is picking up speed as it barrels towards the Northern Territory coast, where more than 2000 people evacuated from its path face an anxious wait.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned the massive storm is likely to become a category four tropical cyclone pushing gale-force winds, rain and tidal surges 300 kilometres out from its core, late on Friday.

Dangerous waves, tides and flooding will precede the destructive core which is expected to have wind gusts of up to 275 km/h when it smashes into the mainland between Groote Eylant and the NT-Queensland border on Saturday.

Anxious residents worried about their homes and pets were evacuated by road and on Australia Defence Force cargo planes from Borroloola, Numbulwar, Groote Eylandt and other indigenous communities.

Buses, vehicles, ferries, planes and helicopters were used during the mass evacuation as a state of emergency was declared in the Gulf country on Thursday.

The evacuated people are in Darwin and Katherine where sleeping facilities including tent cities have been set up.

It is the largest evacuation prior to a cyclone in the territory’s history and the largest type of any evacuation since Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

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The severity and threat of the storm, as well as complications with the remoteness of the area, led to the decision to evacuate, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Thursday.

Following the state of emergency being declared, schools in the region were closed and police able to order people to evacuate and close roads and businesses.

Trevor left behind trail of damage in Queensland’s Cape York peninsula earlier this week, uprooting trees, causing flooding and roof damage, closing schools and roads, and knocking out power supplies.

Ergon Energy crews are flying to the community of Aurukun where about half the community remains without power.

Mayor Dereck Walpo told AAP that despite the ongoing rain and lack of electricity, people were in “high spirits” and the majority of buildings had come through the cyclone undamaged.

“The worst has come on gone and everyone has a smile on their dial,” he said.

Gales are expected on Groote Eylandt and Mornington and Sweers Islands from Friday afternoon and on the mainland coast between Cape Shield in the Northern Territory and Burketown in Queensland on Friday night.

The gales will move into the eastern Carpentaria and northern Barkly districts and northwest Gulf country on Saturday morning.

Inland locations likely to be impacted by wild winds and rain include Doomadgee, Brunette Downs, Creswell Downs, Cape Crawford, Robinson River and Wollogorang.

© AAP 2019

Largest evacuation ever under way in NT

THE largest evacuation before a cyclone in the Northern Territory’s history is underway with Cyclone Trevor due to make landfall on Saturday.

More than 1000 residents have been evacuated from Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar with another 1000 people being moved out of Borroloola, the McArthur River zinc mine, Robinson River and other communities all along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast to Queensland.

The severity and threat of the storm, as well as complications with the remoteness of the area, led to the decision to evacuate, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Thursday.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf country, with schools closed and police can order people to evacuate and close roads and businesses.

It is the largest evacuation prior to a cyclone in the territory’s history and largest type of any evacuation since Cyclone Tracey.

The entire NT Gulf coast is on flood watch with gale-force winds, heavy rain and storm surges extending 300km from the eye of the cyclone.

“As Cyclone Trevor tracks across the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that the cyclone will make landfall between Borroloola and Groote Eylandt during Saturday as a category four severe tropical cyclone,” he told reporters.

“Marine conditions in the gulf are deteriorating from this morning.”

Very destructive winds, with gusts to 260 km/h, heavy rainfall and a dangerous storm tide are expected near the cyclone centre as it approaches and crosses the coast, said the bureau’s Todd Smith.

Rainfall totals of 100mm to 200mm per day will hit ground “hard-baked” by the drought in recent months, meaning likely flash flooding that will affect pastoralists.

Mr Smith has not ruled out the storm strengthening to a category five with winds of more than 300km/h.

The last time a cyclone this strong hit the Territory was Cyclone Lam in 2015 but Trevor is far bigger, Mr Smith said.

Australian Defence Force Hercules’ aircraft are being used to transport people, who have begun arriving in Darwin and Katherine where indoor sleeping facilities are being set up at local showgrounds .

That includes creating barriers to ensure Indigenous cultural protocols are followed and people are spoken to in local languages.

“We’ve used buses, vehicles, ferries, planes, helicopters and anything else in between we can get out hands on,” police regional controller Travis Wurst said.

About 600 out of Groote Eyland’s population of 2800 have been evacuated but authorities are now focusing on Borroloola, with a population of 900.

The evacuations are starting with the most vulnerable and people who are not evacuated in time will be moved into emergency shelters.

“We have the capacity and capability to look after them as long as we need to, until water and power are safe again and houses are habitable again,” Mr Gunner said.

Trevor left behind trail of destruction in Queensland’s Cape York peninsula earlier this week, uprooting trees, caused flooding and roof damage, closed schools and roads and downed power lines.

Trevor lashed the Aurukun community overnight and some 180 homes remain without power on Thursday as residents began cleaning up.

© AAP 2019

NT

Darwin bans ‘offensive’ tourism slogan

The C-word is one of the most taboo words in the English language. And this week it had everybody in talking.

The Northern Territory’s unofficial tourism slogan “CU in the NT” – now adorning tee-shirts and car stickers across Darwin – has caused a furore in the Top End.

The slogan’s passing nod to the deeply offensive swear word has divided the community.

Some people love it, some people hate it. And while the C-word might be a frequent part of Darwin’s common vernacular, many city dwellers don’t want it shoved in their and their children’s faces.

So Darwin Council this week used its bylaws to ban “CU in the NT” products from tropical markets held on public lands at Mindil beach and Nightcliff.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis, who finds the slogan offensive, used his casting vote in favour of the ban – after councillors were deadlocked in a first-round ballot – following numerous complaints, including to police.

But Mr Vatskalis admitted he felt uncomfortable because the council was not the morals police.

“I’ve got my reservations about banning or not banning offensive material because what’s next? The NT News with a naked person on the front page, vegans complaining about selling meat at the markets?

“I think [the slogan’s] immature. Some people find it funny, I don’t and I find it absolutely very childish.”

Fellow council alderman Robin Knox proposed the ban after receiving a lot of complaints, including from NT Attorney General and local MP Natasha Fyles, about an “offensive stall” selling products with wording that was degrading to women at Nightcliff market.

“I’ve had a very big number of complaints about this being displayed the last few weeks at the Sunday market at Nightcliff, which is a very family-friendly event,” she said. “There is a great big playground there.”

Many Darwin locals seem fine with “CU in the NT” and resent the council’s interference, judging by social media and talkback radio responses.

The slogan arguably has greater recognition than the NT’s official tourism advertising campaign at a time when the hordes of backpackers that used to travel to Darwin and Alice Springs have greatly diminished.

“I have a friend who is leaving Darwin and wants to get a tee-shirt. You have got to have that sense of humour,” Ben’s Bakehouse owner Susannah Vong told AAP.

“It’s a very savvy way of grabbing people’s attention, it has put us on the map.”

Marketing and advertising expert and social commentator Jane Caro considers herself a feminist but did not find it offensive and even admires the marketing skills of those behind the slogan.

The company behind the slogan, NT Unofficial, said their intention was to promote territory and it was ridiculous to suggest it offended women.

“We’ve never said any bad words, only ever provided an invitation to the Northern Territory, one of the greatest places on earth,” the company said on the CU in the NT Facebook page.

“If anyone is offended by our simple slogan, they might have trouble reading.”

The products will still be available online and in Northern Territory shops.

© AAP 2019

Child found dead in playground near primary school

A SMALL child has tragically died in a playground next to a primary school in Darwin.

The child’s body was reportedly found in a playground near Wanguri Primary School.

ABC Darwin reporter Elias Clure broke the story on Thursday afternoon.

The local reporter said the child is believed to have died on Wednesday night.

It is understood the child was a student at the school. Their age is not known.

Northern Territory Police Senior Sergeant Matt Allen told 7 News the child’s death was not being treated as suspicious, but rather as a case of “misadventure”.

The circumstances surrounding the incident and cause of death are not yet clear.

Northern Territory Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the child’s death and will prepare a report for the information of the Coroner.

Detectives have spent the day examining the scene.

No further information was available at the time of writing.

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Woman caught with 10 unrestrained kids in car fined $5000, hit with 30 demerit points

A WOMAN has been fined $5000 and been hit with 30 demerit points after she was allegedly caught driving around with 10 unrestrained children in the car.

Officers pulled over the woman’s car on Bagot Street in Alice Springs on January 3 after noticing a number of children “jumping around the cabin”.

Once stopped, it’s alleged officers counted 10 children under the age of 16 inside the vehicle, none of whom were wearing seat belts.

A child under the age of one was also unrestrained and sitting on the front passenger’s lap, police said.

The Northern Territory woman driving the car was fined $5,040 and issued with 30 demerit points.

Senior Constable First Class Ivan Petrovic slammed the woman’s actions, labeling her “irresponsible” and “reckless”.

“How someone can knowingly drive a vehicle in which their passengers are unrestrained is beyond me,” he said.

“Seatbelts are designed to save your life and prevent serious injuries in the case of a traffic crash.”